Believing in liberty: Another view

by Steve Kubby

Dear fellow Libertarians,

I’ve got a secret that I want to share with you. Some of you may find it a startling revelation. Some of you may find it disappointing. Still others may read things into it that you shouldn’t. So I’ll have a little bit of explaining to do. But it’s been bothering me, and I need to tell someone, so here goes:

I am not an anarchist.

Really. I’m not.

It’s not that I have anything against anarchists. Some of my best friends are anarchists. Some of my staunchest political supporters are anarchists. Some of the Libertarian Party’s strongest leaders and most dedicated activists are anarchists, and I’m happy to find them to my left and right in our ranks.

But I’m not an anarchist.

Like Henry David Thoreau, I believe that “that government is best which governs least,” but I don’t follow him down that road to its end—“that government is best which governs not at all.”

On the contrary, I believe that government can, and should, and MUST, exist, and that it should exist in the service of one very necessary function.

I believe that the purpose of government, properly construed, is to secure the just rights of all who come under its jurisdiction. In the Declaration of Independence—which also asserts that function, and no other, as proper to government—those rights are defined as the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursuit of happiness.

I believe that in proper implementation, that sole legitimate function of government dovetails with what libertarians call “the non-aggression principle”—the idea that all of us should be free to live our lives as we see fit until and unless we initiate force against others, abrogating their right to do likewise. It is to secure that right against criminals and invaders that government must exist.

I believe that our nation’s founding fathers framed the Constitution of the United States with that function in mind, and that whatever their failures of construction, or our failures of implementation, that Constitution still represents the pinnacle of human achievement in seeking to build a sound, sane, FREE society.

Is the Constitution imperfect? Certainly. Is it all too often set aside in favor of the current popular mood? Absolutely. Has government as we know it exceeded its authority under, and perverted the purposes of, the Constitution? No doubt about it.

Nonetheless, I am seeking the presidency of the United States—an office which, if I am elected to it, will require me to swear an oath to faithfully execute those laws which conform to the Constitution and to protect and defend the Constitution. If I am elected to that office, have no doubt: I will swear that oath and I will live up to that oath.

All that said, it is my belief that recent arguments in our party about “anarchists” versus “minarchists” miss the point entirely.

We are Libertarians. All of us believe that government is too big. All of us want to make it smaller, less powerful, less intrusive, less abusive and less expensive. All of us want to secure more of the just freedoms to which we and our fellow Americans are entitled. We are united on those points, and as a party we should—if we are to be successful, we MUST —proceed on what unites us, not founder on what divides us.

I do not think for a moment that the anarchists in the Libertarian Party believe that in selecting a presidential nominee, they are handing that nominee—even if that nominee is himself or herself an anarchist—the short straw and charging that nominee with the mission of abolishing government. Rather, like their non-anarchist fellow Libertarians, they realize full well that the mission of the presidential nominee is to go out and make the basic argument for FREEDOM as it pertains to the issues of the day.

On the other hand, when one candidate for our presidential nomination finds it necessary to publicly attack another candidate as an “anarchist,” even though that candidate has never campaigned on a platform of abolition of the state, we must conclude that either desperation or deviltry, or perhaps both, are at work. It is the height of irresponsibility, not to mention just downright personally offensive, for a candidate to place his own nomination prospects before the party’s reputation and interests. That is an inherently disqualifying approach, and my answer to Wayne Allyn Root’s call for Dr. Mary Ruwart’s withdrawal is that if he has so much as a shred of personal honor and dignity left he’ll stop dragging our party through the mud and withdraw himself.

As for my own nomination prospects, I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at our national convention and discussing how to take the Libertarian Party into a brighter future with ALL of its dedicated members and activists welcomed, valued, on board and working together. See you in Denver, and

Let Freedom Grow!
Steve Kubby
Libertarian for President

55 Responses to “Believing in liberty: Another view”

  1. Kenny Says:

    Denver is going to be a bloodbath at this rate.

  2. Paulie Says:

    Although I’m an anarchist, I agree with most of what Steve says here. Really, it should go without saying. Sad day for the LP that this even needs to be discussed at all.

    This was settled in 1974 and should have been left at that.

  3. Eric Dondero Says:

    You’re against the death penalty Steve. You’re against the Military. You’re in favor of surrender in the War against Islamo-Fascism.

    I’d call that advocating No Government. In other words Anarchism.

    Now you may be a reasonable Anarchist. From my dealings with you, I’ve found you to be quite a pleasant, honest and above the board individual. But a “Mainstream Libertarian” you are not. You are on the Radical Fringe of the movement.

    And yes, that means you are an Anarchist.

  4. G.E. Says:

    Do I fall “under the jurisdiction” of the federal government? Not unless I’m counterfeiting, committing treason, or resisting federal taxes, under my understanding of the Originalist Constitution. I don’t think the federal government should protect me from anyone but foreign invaders and, most importantly, itself. My relations with my fellow man are up to my state government to regulate and police, and I hope Kubby agrees with this.

    W.A.R. is scum. Too bad he’s still the third best candidate, next to Dr. Ruwart and Mr. Kubby. Thankfully, there’s Chuck Baldwin.

  5. Eric Dondero Says:

    Steve, if you do not favor fighting the War against Islamo-Fascism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and other areas around the Globe, you are in essense defacto in favor of Abolishing the State, most specifically the plural United States. For surrender to Al Qaeda means destruction of the United States of America as we know it.

    They feed on our weakness. And you and other leftwing Anarchists who advocate such positions are feeding the beast.

  6. Paulie Says:

    Steve Kubby believes in the continued existence of a territorial monopoly government, therefore he is not an anarchist (although I hope he’ll see his error on this eventually, he still has my first round vote).

    I like the new definition of anarchism as opposing “the War against Islamo-Fascism (sic) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and other areas around the Globe.”

    By that definition most LP members are anarchists, and I’m greatly relieved that we are now the overwhelming majority.

  7. RetroCon Says:

    If we accept take Eric D’s definition of an anarchist than count me among the ranks. First of all, there is no such thing as a War on “Islamo-Facism”, any more than there is a “war” or drugs or poverty. The current military actions against terrorists in foreign nations are nothing more than police actions. And if being against US police action in other nations means being an anarchist, than George Washington was an anarchist, or close to it.

    Also, being against the death penalty dose not in the least imply a support for anarchy. I’m against the death penalty, but believe strongly that those proven guilty of heinous crimes should serve life sentences with no parole. Heck, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck have said the are against the death penalty, are we going to say that they espouse anarchy?

    To argue that the United States will collapse if we do not defeat, through military action, Islamo-Facism is, IMHO, just plain silly. First of all, America is more than 9 trillion dollars in debt. We simply CANNOT AFFORD TO SPEND 13 BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH FIGHTING IN IRAQ! You want to see the America collapse? Then go ahead, fight a “war” with no stated objective (therefore not winnable) that fosters the economic downfall of our nation. Bin Laden is laughing in a cave somewhere as we spend billions of dollars trying to stamp out al Qaede while at the same time giving billions of dollars to Mideastern despots who share sympathies with terrorists. And this isn’t just me talking, Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit (not exactly an anarchist), has said essentially the same thing.

  8. The Dylan Says:

    What Eric Dondero advocates is closer to true anarchy than what Steve and Mary have been talking about. A government that wages illegal wars, extending its authority wherever possible by sheer might, and does so by bankrupting its own citizens, offending our most basic civil liberties, and failing repeatedly at its sole legitimate purpose- to defend this country and its borders- this is the height of chaos and and the practical equivalent of anarchy.

    We all know these words like our own names:
    “All men… are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights… To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men… Whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.”

    When government officials break the highest laws of the land to maintain power- there is anarchy, because the rule of men replaces the rule of law and we the people, have no rights.

  9. susan santarini Says:

    Hey Dumbdildo,

    I spoke to your boy Root and he says he has never had anything to do with you and you are an embarrassment. He says his guys have told him to steer clear of you. Root also said he doesn’t even talk to you anymore.

    BTW, Root now repudiates everything he used to stand for, the same stuff you still stand for. Also, I appears that you don’t have a singe friend on TPW, so why to you insist on inflicting yourself upon the rest of us?

    I’m even willing to bet that you never served in the military. I’ve heard you made it up and no one had ever vouched for you. Can you PROVE you were in the service, Dumbdildo? I say you can’t and that, like your name, it’s just something you made up.

  10. Paulie Says:

    Susan,

    He’s offered to fax his DD-214 as proof. You can take him up on his offer if you wish.

  11. Eric Dondero Says:

    Susan Santirini, ask Tom Knapp if I served in the Military. Or, TPW Publisher Stephen Gordon.

  12. Eric Dondero Says:

    Paulie’s right. I’d be glad to fax you a copy of my DD-214 if you wish?

    Here’s my cell number 832-896-9505. Just leave a voice mail with your fax number.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Mr. Dondero is either a former squid, or he does a damn good impression of one. I do suspect, however, that he spent a lot of time scrubbing the head with a toothbrush and a can of paint thinner, though, because there’s definitely something wrong with him even beyond his having had the misfortune to join the Navy rather than a real military service like the Marine Corps.

  14. Craig Says:

    A pretty good statement, but some of us fail to see how the organization responsible for the most frequent and costly rights violations is somehow necessary to secure our rights.

    I mean, what do we need the government to protect us from? The possibility that some bad people will take a third of our money every year, or all of our money every third year? That doesn’t seem too likely, but it’s about what the government takes to “protect us”.

    It’s like the guys who used to wash your windshield at a stop light. Sure, they’re helping, but do you really owe them anything.

  15. David F. Nolan Says:

    I am impressed with Mr. Kubby’s statement. Clearly, it is intended to stake out a unique position for himself in the crowded field of LP candidates. That position is: not quite as radical as Ruwart, but more radical than Phillies, Root and Barr. And that’s a good position to occupy, if the skirmishes in Denver become as contentious as many people expect.

    Note: As I see it, the listing above (Ruwart-Kubby-Phillies-Root-Barr) is how these five candidates line up, from most radical to most conservative. I can’t quite figure where Gravel falls in this spectrum, but I’d guess he’s closer to Kubby than he is to anyone else. Hard to say.

  16. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Effective immediately, and apropos of some of the material in this comment thread, I am introducing a new feature at my personal blog, [email protected]: Definitions for Dondero.

    Regards,
    Rev. Thomas L. Knapp, D. Litt.
    [email protected]

  17. benedicts anal gerbil Says:

    Dear fellow Libertarians,

    I’ve got a secret that I want to share with you. Some of you may find it a startling revelation. Some of you may find it disappointing. Still others may read things into it that you shouldn’t. I’ve been inside Benedict now for a few hours and I need your help. Please, dear fucking God, if you have any humanity dial 911! PICK UP THAT FUCKING PHONE AND DIAL! DO IT! DO IT NOW! I NEVER CONSENTED TO THIS!

  18. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    David,

    While I’m an anarchist myself, I reject the notion that “radicalism” is a function of anarchism versus non-anarchism, or some kind of scalar measurement against a fixed standard.

    “Radical” means nothing more or less than “of or pertaining to the root; proceeding directly from the root.” [Webster’s, 1913 edition]

    Any number of “roots” are possible, and to assert that “radical,” as associated with libertarianism, inherently implies pertinence to or procession from Rothbardian anarchism as “root” is ahistorical.

    If “the root” is to be determined in accordance with seniority, then “libertarian” originally described the theological position that humans enjoy free will rather than living predestined lives.

    If “the root” is to be determined in accordance with longevity, then “libertarianism” has referred to communist anarchism for much more of its history than it has referred to any of the currently prevailing definitions in use in the Libertarian Party.

    If “the root” is to be determined in accordance with the intentions of a party’s founders, then you yourself have already laid the question of Rothbardian anarchism as the standard of radicalism in the LP to rest—in the article in which you first publicly called for the LP’s formation.

    In that article, you named three groups from which you intended to forge the Party: Randians, Misesians and the “Old Right.” Randians reject anarchism (even though their foundational philosophical premises imply, or as some would argue, inevitably lead to it). Misesians of the Rothbardian persuasion are anarchists, but Mises himself was not and many of his disciples aren’t. And while there were anarchists (such as Albert Jay Nock) in the “Old Right,” anarchism was hardly that movement’s prevailing ideology. How could Rothbardian anarchism be the “root” of a party composed of three groups which arguably substantially reject it?

    Kubby is not an anarchist, but he clearly anchors his libertarianism in a procession from a “root,” said root being the American political tradition descending from the Declaration of Independence, the writings of Thomas Paine, etc. I don’t see how that makes him one iota less “radical” than some knothead who picked up a copy of For a New Liberty last week and wants to beat other libertarians over the head with it.

    N.B. for the purpose of ingratiating myself with Holtz: “Geolibertarians” are also fully entitled to claim the title “radical.” Their argument, like Kubby’s, proceeds from at least as early as statements by Paine and Jefferson, and even if traced back only as far as Henry George pre-dates Rothbardian anarchism by about a century, so it obviously has the edge on seniority. Furthermore, it is ideologically “root”-oriented insofar as it deals with the most basic issues of what does, or should, constitute property (just as other “radical” varieties of libertarianism do with their doctrines of self-ownership as foundational principle).

  19. Devious David Says:

    Dondero really was in the Navy. He doesn’t have a daddy. He has an undiagnosed case of Asperger’s. He’s a wannabe swinger. Ron Paul fired him. That’s his life story, for those not up to speed.

  20. Trollin Inshit Says:

    Go take a leak at thirdpottywatch.com

  21. Brent Burk Says:

    Eric Dondero,

    Your use of the English language amuses me. You like to fit certain words to your own personal definition so you can spread your own personal agenda.

    To shut down your perceived enemies you use foul language and cliché statements instead of presenting facts and debating issues.

    Instead of representing individualist ideals you group people into collectivist molds so you can easily proclaim who’s a patriot and who’s not.

    As others begin to question the government you yearn for it to have more power in the sake for false security.

    You call yourself a libertarian and you call yourself a Republican, but the sad truth is you are neither. You have decided to take up the Objectivist’s view on libertarianism and Neoconservative’s view on conservatism (or lack thereof).

    You are a disgrace to your party when you engage in such hatemongering and a disgrace to your country when you arrogantly proclaim your service to it while advocating the destruction of it.

    That is all.

  22. Brian Holtz Says:

    I applaud Steve Kubby for continuing to engage in the important debate over the Libertarian Party’s principles. I appreciate Tom Knapp’s erudite lesson on the strict etymological sense of “radical”, but I agree with David Nolan that the five top-tier candidates can be ranked according to the conventional size-of-government sense of “radicalism”, viz: Ruwart Kubby Phillies Root Barr. (Gravel’s positions on FairTax and voucherized universal federal funding for healthcare and education make it hard to say he’s as radical as even Root is.)

    I also agree that Kubby contrasting Ruwart’s anarchism against his own Constitution-respecting minarchism is the smartest move available to Steve at this point. His radical base is unlikely to question him too closely on e.g. how the state can maintain a monopoly on justice without initiating force, or how he can claim to be “plumbline” while supporting the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to subpoena witnesses. If Kubby were to clearly underscore the latter example of intellectual independence from ZAPsolutist “plumbline” orthodoxy—an independence that this essay does not actually proclaim—then he would have nearly as solid a claim as Phillies to being a unity candidate.

    Kubby’s move is smart not only with respect to the current field of candidates, but also in how it avoids a break from a little-known historical pattern. All the evidence I have suggests that, ever since the Platform was radicalized in 1974, Ruwart would be the first LP presidential candidate to have a written record that is more radical than the Platform she ran on. (Anyone who thinks the Children’s Rights plank is coming back in Denver is nuts.)
    In fact, it’s doubtful that any post-Dallas candidate besides Bergland has had a written record equally as radical as the Platform he ran on. Of the the nine LP presidential tickets, at least seven were headed by men who conceded (then or later) that coercive taxation will be necessary indefinitely—rejecting the pre-Portland Platform’s call for abolition of all taxation and immediate non-enforcement of tax laws. Andre Marrou may merely have opposed “excessive taxation”, which would make it 8 out of 9. And while David Bergland was a Rothbardian radical when nominated in 1984, by 2000 he was managing the campaign of Harry Browne, who wrote at the time that “until we find a way to finance government without taxes or a way to assure our safety without any government, some form of taxation will be necessary”. So it might actually be 9 out of 9.

    It would have been easy for Ruwart to immunize herself from concerns about her being more radical than the Platform she’ll be given to run with. She could have said she was running to be ONLY the chief spokesperson and salesman for consensus libertarianism, and explicitly disavowed any claim to represent the best and most authentic form of libertarianism. But she could not resist making something very like this claim, probably because of the presence in the race of some candidates who even a big-tenter like me would call ersatz libertarians or libertarians-in-training. So she said in some interviews:

    MR) The person who should lead our party should be someone who of course knows the philosophy. Now, I’ve listened to some of the other candidates and it’s clear to me that they haven’t quite gotten the whole picture yet. That’s OK, they will one day. But they don’t want to be running as President when they really can’t see the full picture [...] I would like to talk a little bit about the danger to our party, because you know there’s going to be a temptation here, I’m afraid, and the temptation is that if someone comes with a lot of past history, if they’re a well-known name, the tendency is going to be perhaps consider that it would be better to embrace someone like that who really may not be yet fully attuned to the Libertarian philosophy [...] if we have someone who really doesn’t have the full picture yet, who is in a leadership position in the Party, I think that could take us down the wrong road. And that’s something that I think all the delegates need to consider when they look at the candidates. Because we’re not just talking about who is the best spokesperson for liberty (MR

    Then she went on offense yesterday and basically said that Libertarians don’t “believe in liberty” if they don’t agree with her that the state should have the same role in policing aggression against minors as it does in policing the adult possession of firearms and psychotropic substances—i.e. none. That’s a pretty audacious signal to send to the delegates she’s asking to nominate her.
    She is thus apparently making her nomination campaign a referendum on the purity of her zero-government libertarianism, and that makes it easy—and very big-tent—to prefer Kubby’s positioning over her divisive more-libertarian-than-thou candidacy.

    P.S. I can’t quite discern what in Root’s essay made Steve think Root was “publicly attacking another candidate as an ‘anarchist’”. While I disagree with anarchism even more strongly that Steve does, I can’t agree at all that to merely call a self-described anarchist an “anarchist” constitutes an “attack”. (And if merely disagreeing with anarchism is such an “attack”, then Kubby just committed the same infraction.) The only unfair criticism of anarchism I see in Root’s piece is the assertion that anarchists aren’t libertarians. Saying that a revered Libertarian like Ruwart isn’t a libertarian is akin to Ruwart pronouncing that she is the one candidate who best “sees the full picture”. However, while it’s one thing to say that a particular competing candidate is a philosophical outlier, it’s quite another to tacitly proclaim one’s own libertarianism as the plumbline against which all other candidates (and delegates?) should be measured.

  23. Trollin Inshit Says:

    Stick it in deep at www.turdpottywatch.com.

  24. steve Kubby Says:

    “You’re against the death penalty Steve. You’re against the Military.”

    Eric Dondero claims I do not support the Death Penalty, or the Military, when he knows that’s not true.

    As he is well aware, because Dondero “interviewed” me for a story that never materialized, I DO support a Death Penalty—except that I want a REAL Death Penalty that doesn’t take 20 years to enforce.

    I place my faith in the 2nd amendment, NOT the government, to uphold a REAL Death Penalty.

    Therefore, I advocate armed self-defense from criminals at the “point of sale,” and believe that those who act violently deserve what they get if their victims—or those acting on behalf of the victims, such as police officers or concerned passersby—take lethal action, then and there, to protect the lives and property of the innocent.

    I do not, however, trust the state—an organization that can’t even deliver the mail on time or balance its checkbook—with the decision to kill people in non-emergency situations.

    Once a criminal has been apprehended, there are other options and there’s also often a lack of certainty. More than one innocent defendant has been executed, and many more have been proven innocent while awaiting execution. Better to imprison someone we THINK may be guilty for life, than to execute someone who later turns out to be innocent.

    Of course, I’m a presidential candidate, so I’m only speaking to the Federal Death Penalty anyway. That’s seldom used—the last one I recall was McVeigh, and Eric Dondero, himself, has opined that there’s more to the story of the OKC bombing than we know—wouldn’t it be nice to have him around to question some more?

    As for the claim that I don’t support the Military, that’s another fiction in the head of Eric Dondero. I am not at liberty to discuss the details, but the US Navy saw fit to put me behind the throttle of two of it’s hottest fighter jets. See here for details.

  25. Jim Duensing Says:

    Dondero,

    I’m still wondering: Are you an anti-Paul Republican or a pro-Barr Libertarian.

  26. Trollin Inshit Says:

    Examine piles at www.turdpottywatch.com.

  27. severin Says:

    Steve, even though you are not an anarchist, I still like you. I like the Harry Browne answer to the accusation he was an anarchist, and it is the one I use (not an exact HB quote):

    I believe in dramatically smaller government. Could I believe in anarchism? I am not sure, once we get the government to the point where if we reduce government any farther it would cease to exist, then I will let you know.

  28. Steve Perkins Says:

    I think that Steve Kubby sounds 10 times more reasonable in this thread than Eric Dondero. I’m not sure if that’s a positive reflection on Kubby, or a negative reflection on Dondero. (“Islamo-Fascists”??)

  29. Less Antman Says:

    Brian, Mary did an interview with Scott Horton on Tuesday, and stated explicitly that she believes the president has an absolute responsibility to uphold the Constitution as is, AS A RESULT OF TAKING THE OATH OF OFFICE.

    http://antiwar.com/radio/2008/05/07/mary-ruwart/

    Someone can believe the President of the US has an obligation to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution without believing the Constitution is a binding social contract on those who haven’t sworn an oath in exchange for public office. Libertarians believe that all have an obligation not to aggress, of course, whether or not they’ve ever sworn an oath (or accepted someone’s jurisdiction for dispute resolution, for that matter).

    While I would normally be interested in a long and honest discussion of the differences, real and imagined, between minarchism and anarchism, in the context of the present campaign I do not think it is relevant, as no candidate is proposing to campaign on what is possibly the only substantive distinction (the right of secession). It would be interesting, though, to know where the candidates stand on the real world recent announcement of secession of the Lakota (Sioux) Nation, and whether they support the violent suppression of this move by the US government. If you believe in the right of secession, you are an anarchist, no matter what label you choose to personally adopt.

    Brian seems to be proposing an alternative distinction, between those who believe in the practicality of the non-aggression principle and those who think there must be exceptions, but I think most minarchists do not accept the view that they are compromising on the issue of aggression.

    The distinction between libertarian minarchism and libertarian anarchism is mainly illusory (other than the right of secession, which most self-proclaimed minarchists in the LP support!). I consider Kubby to be every bit as principled a libertarian as Ruwart, and until I see Brian Holtz make policy proposals that are not based on the goal of minimizing aggression, I have no reason to believe he isn’t also a principled libertarian, even if I have drawn different policy conclusions from him on a few issues.

    Ruwart’s article claimed that the proper law regarding children and consent would be common law based rather than statutory. The issue of whether that law was enforced by a monopoly or market-based court was not relevant to her discussion. As I mentioned elsewhere, I didn’t like the tone of the article, and think her irritation at the repeated attacks showed in it.

    I have never hidden my admiration for Steve Kubby, and think he is attempting to reset the tone that should exist in this campaign. Bravo, Steve!

  30. Less Antman Says:

    In thinking about it, Brian may be attempting a different distinction, since he is using L. Neil Smith’s term “zero-aggression principle.” I believe Brian has elsewhere indicated that he believes there are occasions when aggression now is necessary to reduce the total amount of aggression that occurs. Thus, he might be distinguishing between those who believe that:

    (1) Aggression now is never acceptable.

    (2) Aggression now is acceptable if it will reduce aggression later.

    This is probably a valid distinction (different from the anarchist-minarchist, I think, but perhaps not in the minds of all).

    The question then becomes what standard is to be applied to determine the exceptions permitted in choice (2) and who is the authority in making that determination. Again, a worthy discussion, probably when it is no longer being conducted in the context of a candidate contest.

  31. Brian Holtz Says:

    Less, while you were on hiatus from LP activism for all those years, it seems that the meaning of “minarchism” shifted. When I first read the 1970s-vintage writings of Libertarians revealing Konkin’s original sense of “minarchism”, I was quite shocked to see it implied that “minarchism” still included absolute abstention from anything that could be labeled force initiation. Reading my way into the movement c. 1990 first on Usenet and then on the Web, the sense of “minarchism” I encountered was clearly about a state that used the absolute minimum amount of force initiation to protect life, liberty, and property.

    Yes, the fundamental distinction I see here is between 1) absolutist clean-hands abstentionism regarding force initiation and 2) an opposition to force initiation that is so resolute that it it willing to consider using means other than setting a good example of abstinence. I personally see absolutist abstentionism as a radical indulgence in self-righteousness, but not a truly radical commitment to minimizing society’s net amount of force initiation.

    I can’t tell if you agree that personal secession is equivalent to anarchism, but I’ll bet you that neither a majority of current LP members nor even a majority of Denver delegates would agree with a right of personal secession. For example, I’m pretty sure Steve Kubby doesn’t, and he’s more radical than the modal NatCon delegate. Steve also apparently agrees with the Sixth Amendment right of subpoena, which (as I predicted) you didn’t address. I don’t see how you could possibly say that Kubby agrees with your strict abstentionist interpretation of non-aggression if he believes in such subpoena power against innocent third party witnesses. A minarchist would be deluded to think she can support such a power without thus embracing an exception to your abstentionist NAP. (It’s not an exception to my aggression-minimizing interpretation of the NAP —which of course is my point about what our minarchists implicitly believe.) Like her many other firsts, Ruwart would apparently be the first LP presidential candidate to be on record as opposing the Sixth Amendment (unless Bergland addressed it somewhere).

    I agree with Roy Childs against Rand (and Nolan?) that a state cannot meaningfully be said to be legislating, rather than just suggesting, if it doesn’t reserve the right to initiate force to maintain its monopoly on enforcing its laws. Nolan recently revealed that he doesn’t believe in a state monopoly on writing or enforcing laws, which strongly suggests he is a David-Friedman-style private-law anarchist. In a private email he said he wasn’t interested in explaining why he disagreed with Childs or how he differs from Friedman. Oh well, it’s not like it’s a core question in libertarian political theory, with any interesting implications for the Party he founded almost 40 years ago … :-)

    I note that you did not dispute my characterization that Ruwart claims to represent the best and most authentic form of libertarianism. Do you seriously think she would admit that a Sixth-Amendment-endorsing Steve Kubby is as pure a libertarian as she is? She may have called Ron Paul “principled”, but Marxists are principled too. She can either run on her claim of being the most pure libertarian in the race, or she can ask us to ignore how her anarchist principles apply to the question of state laws against child prostitution, but she can’t do both. She needed to make up her mind, and two days ago she very clearly did.

    It was only in 2000 that the LP Platform finally took a stand against the implication of the earlier Children’s Rights plank, and said that parents have an obligation to care for their children. The LP is just barely stepping out of the shadows of Rothbardianism, and a Ruwart nomination—after she’s angrily denounced those who disagree with her on state legislation outlawing aggression against children—would take us right back into the darkness. Since she’s even more radical than Kubby, she needs to work even harder than he in being an ideological uniter rather than a divider. She seems to have no interest in doing so. I gave an extended quote of her apparently declaring the centrality of her purity to her campaign, and at some point is has to become specious for you to keep repeating the talking point that her campaign is only about the three topics (health care, war, and whatever) on which you’ve told us she’s willing to have her principles be examined.

  32. Less Antman Says:

    Actually, Brian, I’m not sure that Ruwart wouldn’t enforce the 6th amendment as president, based on her statement in the radio interview to which I linked. I already tried to address the 6th amendment in a discussion on TPW with Steve Newton a few days ago, and I have no time to repeat it. I’ve never seen Dr. Ruwart write or speak on the 6th amendment, so I cannot tell you whether she supports its repeal, but since she explicitly stated on Tuesday that as president she would uphold the entire Constitution, and not pick and choose, that suggests she would uphold the 6th amendment. When I declare for president, you may ask me what I’d do. ;)

    I’m tired of responding to your repeated characterization of Ruwart’s positions on children’s rights issues, and that is why I’ve stopped responding on those. I did NOT characterize Kubby’s position on the matter of secession. Let’s let him do that: shall we? As you noted, David Nolan may be more of an intellectual ally of mine than might appear to be the case at first glance, but we need to allow him the opportunity to disown me.

    Yes, I think believing in the right of secession is equivalent to anarchism. I also believe there is a universal obligation not to aggress, so whether or not two people are within the same legal jurisdiction is not relevant to determining whether they have the right to aggress. The only coherent alternative to anarchism that I can see is one world government (or de facto defense of all existing boundaries and governments).

    It is entirely unclear to me how you determine the boundaries of your territorial monopolies. I believe the appropriate territorial monopoly is the person’s own body and what they have taken from a state of nature or received from a previous rightful owner, with affiliation between self-owners creating legitimate territorial monopolies that are much, much larger, but aren’t necessarily contiguous. After the convention, let’s have it out on the topic: I’m sure it will be entertaining and, perhaps, instructive. Maybe Gordon can do an online debate.

    When you cite Roy Childs’ argument, are you saying that you personally support the violent suppression of the recent Lakota (Sioux) Nation secession by the US government? I’m not clear why you brought that up, and why you aren’t being clearer as to your position.

    I’m also not sure you are the best authority on how to be a uniter rather than a divider. ;)

  33. Steve LaBianca Says:

    susan santarini Says:
    May 9th, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    BTW, Root now repudiates everything he used to stand for, the same stuff you still stand for.

    This is the BIG problem, with W.A.R. He “repudiates” (3. to reject with disapproval or condemnation: to repudiate a new doctrine. 4. to reject with denial: to repudiate a charge as untrue.) EVERYTHING he stood for, less than one year ago.

    That, in my opinion, leaves way too much doubt. In 6 month or less, W.A.R. has taken an about face on virtually EVERYTHING! Does anybody else see anything wrong here, if he ends up as the LP nominee? How likely is he to “repudiate” again, were he to be the nominee, and have to support libertarianism which he is still very shallow on? He might just as likely go back to his support for “war on terror” and war on “islamo-fascism”.

    I for one, will trust ANY other candidate (probably not Iimperato) over W.A.R. . . . it is just way too likely for him to say or do anything which he is most comfortable with . . . and that is his “roots”. And that ain’t libertarianism.

  34. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Brian,

    You refer to Konkin for a definition of “minarchism” that declines to vest a power to initiate force in the state, but I suspect the more likely source for most people is Nozick, who in Anarchy, State and Utopia purported to prove that it is possible for an ultra-minimal state both to come into existence and to operate, without violating anyone’s rights, i.e. without initiating force against anyone.

    I’m not sure if I buy Nozick’s argument. Hell, I’m not sure if I understand Nozick’s argument—it’s pretty involved. But while many libertarians were and are aware of Konkin, it was Nozick who wrote on the subject of “anarchism” versus “minarchism” from a lofty perch at Harvard and who won a National Book Award for it.

  35. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Reading through Less Antman postings, and the counter dialog by Brian Holtz, I have only one question which would be directed at Holtz.

    In my view his whole world view of libertarianism either holds up or falls apart based upon his main theme of - “opposing and minimizing aggression”. As alluded to above, Thoreau in “Civil Disobedience” said he heartily accepted the motto of that government is best which governs least, but then went on to say that carried out, the phrase essentially means “That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have”. I maintain that Thoreau’s simple analysis holds true with “minimizing aggression” and its relation to Zero aggression.

    How minimum is acceptable? When and how much aggression is necessary, and how is minimum aggression different in different circumstances? Who decides what is minimum? In collecting taxes, should “minimum” aggression be a government agent simply brandishing a firearm to force compliance, or will some more aggression be necessary, like firing a warning shot, or is a shot to the “renegade tax evader” in the foot a minimum amount of aggression? If simply brandishing a firearm is the minimum, if the “tax cheat” doesn’t comply with that agents demands, does the government agent then simply go back to the office and “strike that one off the list”? Maybe the minimum aggression isn’t decided by the government field agent. Maybe it is determined by the Director of the government agency. Maybe Mike Gravel would suggest that the amount of aggression should be determined by a “national referendum”.

    Now you could say that simply brandishing a firearm isn’t aggression at all unless it is backed up as an actual threat to use deadly force, if necessary.

    However, I would maintain that deadly force is not “minimizing” aggression by any sense of the phrase. Even “wounding force” isn’t minimum in my opinion. These scenarios are portrayed to only highlight that the concept of “minimum” aggression is a myth. Aggression can never be minimized. Aggression in practice, will in fact be maximized, to the level necessary to carry out what ever is being done, like collecting a tax, or stopping someone from cutting hair without a license. No, the government will always use the MAXIMUM amount of force necessary. Minimum aggression is IMHO, is a myth . . and a fatal one at that.

    If Holtz can explain how “opposing and minimizing aggression” is characterized in more than a simple, neat phrase, AND how it would be carried out in practice by imperfect humans, I’m listening.

    An acceptable explanation, that is a reasonable, and logical explanation of how “minimizing” aggression is carried out in the short term, and maintained in the long term, I really want to hear.

    Barring such an explanation, the whole “opposing and minimizing aggression” basis for his position falls apart. IMHO, that is.

  36. Andrew Murphy Says:

    Rothbard anarchism is very similar to Marxism for opposite ends. They both are utopian and as Karl Popper pointed out in his Open Society, all uptopian thinking is a perversion not an expression of Enlightnment thinking. Both anarcho-capitalists and Marxists, are un willing to accept models as as simply tools to understanding and refuse to accept empirical observation and trial and error as legitminate sciences and have nothing both contempt for piecemeal change and will only accept utopian change as the only course of action.

  37. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Andrew Murphy Says:
    May 10th, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Rothbard anarchism is very similar to Marxism for opposite ends. They both are utopian

    I have never heard any proponent of anarchism call anarchy “utopian”. Others have, to be sure, but I am curious how these “others” come to that conclusion. Is it promised that with anarchy, all is well, nobody ever is taken advantage of, nobody’s property is ever stolen . . . in short how is that in the anarchist’s theory, nobody’s rights are ever violated? Unless Mr. Murphy has a different definition of utopia, I do not see how utopia is claimed in anarchist theory, nor achieved in practice either.

    In my view, the idea that the “non-utopian” conditions of anarchy can be fixed through the mechanisms of statism, NOW THAT IS UTOPIAN!

  38. Andrew Murphy Says:

    Anarchy is utopian. All Rothbard could point to in his “For a New Liberty” was medival Iceland as his one and only historical proof that anarchy could work. Rothbardians cling to the Icleandic example just as Marxists used to cling to the Paris Commune as proof of worker’s democracy in action.

  39. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Murphy, so even if true, that the existence of only one example of “anarchy” ever existed in all of human history, that defines it as “utopian”?

    utopia - an ideal place or state. any visionary system of political or social perfection.

    Only in the fantasy world of Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia” can “utopia” be characterized as never existing. In reality, utopia is a description of perfect society. Rothbard never promised that anarchy would result in a perfect society. Rothbard understood that imperfect humans would and could never have that.

  40. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Steve,

    You write:

    “I have never heard any proponent of anarchism call anarchy ‘utopian.’”

    I’m always delighted to have good reason to go back and reread anything by L. Neil Smith again, especially “Unanimous Consent and the Utopian Vision.”

    I don’t know if that essay (delivered as a speech to the 1987 Future of Freedom Conference originally) meets your standard of a “proponent of anarchism call[ing] anarchy ‘utopian,’” but I think it should come close:

    - I don’t think that Neil would contradict my claim that he is an anarchist.
    - Although he does not use the word “anarchy” in the essay, I also don’t think he would contradict my claim that anarchy is what he refers to in the speech/essay when he uses the phrases “society without coercion,” “truly free society” and “libertarian society.”
    - The essay clearly embraces the concept of Utopianism in promotion of said visions of society as a good thing, not a bad thing.

  41. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Brian,

    You write:

    I can’t quite discern what in Root’s essay made Steve think Root was “publicly attacking another candidate as an ‘anarchist’”. While I disagree with anarchism even more strongly that Steve does, I can’t agree at all that to merely call a self-described anarchist an “anarchist” constitutes an “attack”. (And if merely disagreeing with anarchism is such an “attack”, then Kubby just committed the same infraction.) The only unfair criticism of anarchism I see in Root’s piece is the assertion that anarchists aren’t libertarians.

    The explanation is in your own words:

    - Root describes Ruwart as an anarchist.
    - Root says that anarchists aren’t libertarians.
    - Therefore, Root is saying that Ruwart isn’t a libertarian.

    I think it’s fair to describe the claim of one candidate for the LP’s presidential nomination that another candidate for the LP’s presidential nomination is not a libertarian as an attack. And if the evidence for that claim is the claim that said opponent is an anarchist, then it’s fair to describe that attack as “attacking [said opponent] as an anarchist.”

    Then again, I’ve always had trouble understanding why “attack” is such a dirty word in the LP. Since we’re talking about “utopia” too, I’ll just say that the vision of all the candidates offering their positive vision for the LP, without ever criticizing their opponents, is pretty utopian. In the real world, political candidates promote their own vision— and attack their opponents and their opponents’ visions.

    As a side note, if you think our candidates get nasty with their attacks, you should read some of the stuff that went back and forth between Jefferson and the Federalists for a good 15 years, starting late in Washington’s administration and running through Jefferson’s second term. The nastiest modern campaigns have trouble holding a candle to those of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

  42. Starchild Says:

    I think Paulie said it very well:

    “Although I’m an anarchist, I agree with most of what Steve says here. Really, it should go without saying. Sad day for the LP that this even needs to be discussed at all. This was settled in 1974 and should have been left at that.”

    It seems high time for us as a party to reaffirm and formalize the 1974 Dallas Accord, and for the anarchists and minarchists among us to agree that we as a party will leave the door open to either anarchy or minarchy as our desired end state. The LP platform and other official party documents and statements should presume neither that governments will or should exist, nor that they will or should not exist.

    Anarchists by definition want zero government and therefore oppose all laws, so of course any anarchist worthy of the name is going to oppose age discrimination laws. So when Wayne Allyn Root or anyone else says someone who opposes age discrimination laws is unfit to be our presidential candidate, what they are really saying is that people with anarchist beliefs are unfit to run for president on the LP ticket.

    That’s what made Root’s call for Mary Ruwart to drop out of the race over views that she and other libertarians have openly held for years not just an attack on her, but a de facto attempt—hopefully an unwitting one—to trash the Dallas Accord and divide the party.

  43. Starchild Says:

    P.S. - How does one italicize words or produce the vertical lines along the left side of a paragraph indicating quoted material on this blog?

  44. Less Antman Says:

    Starchild says:

    “Anarchists by definition want zero government and therefore oppose all laws”

    Not so: there is even a book entitled Anarchy and the Law, edited by Ed Stringham, discussing the foundation of law under anarchy. Customary and common law arose in different settings without governments, such as Ancient Israel, Medieval Iceland, and Ireland for two millenia. The Law Merchant, which is the foundation of modern business law, was created entirely by international merchants needing to deal with each other without any government to oversee and enforce contracts.

    We didn’t need government to tell us that murder was wrong, nor for that matter that pre-pubescent children are not capable of contractual consent for sex. This was understood in every anarchist society. People could even subscribe under anarchy to a legal system that adopted numerical rules, such as age of consent laws, to clarify the application of law.

    Market anarchists believe in law. What we don’t accept is that any group of people should be exempt from the law by virtue (sic) of calling themselves “government officials.” Those who believe acts that are illegal when performed by most people become legal when performed in the name of government are the lawless ones. What makes us ALL libertarians is that we hold government officials to the same standard of non-aggression we apply to the rest of society.

    One of the frustrations of the manner in which the Dallas Accord is being interpreted is that not discussing these things openly has led enormous numbers in the LP to misunderstand what market anarchists believe and advocate. This is more of a problem for anarchists than minarchists, since most people better understand the status quo.

  45. Steve LaBianca Says:
    1. Starchild Says:
      May 11th, 2008 at 2:08 am

    P.S. - How does one italicize words or produce the vertical lines along the left side of a paragraph indicating quoted material on this blog?

    Starchild, Susan Hogarth enlightened me at to how to do some of these things. I can’t find her post with the web link, but if you want to italicize a section of verbiage, you put at the beginning, and at the end of the desired text. by the same token if you want to bold text, you put at the beginning and at the end. As far as the vertical line you want to use, I don’t know on that one.

  46. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Well sorry Starchild, indicating what to do didn’t come through, it just italicized and bolded text in my post.

    maybe this will come through for beginning and end of text you want to italicize, and for beginning and end of bold text.

  47. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Susan Hogarth or someone else will have to give you the link to do these things. Sorry I can’t be of help.

  48. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Thomas, though I will have to defer reading the complete L. Neil smith essay, he does seem to point to the concept of utopia as different than my view with this: “However, the word “Utopia” only became synonymous with ‘’impossible dream” when the internal inconsistencies, the inherent cynicism, the utter failure of socialism became unmistakable to everyone.”

    This indicates, the “has never occurred and never will”, and “it’s just a theory” characteristic of utopia is not a core definition of the term. I am of the belief that the fundamental definition of utopia entails the “perfect society” aspect, and not the “impossibility” of it happening.

    So although Rothbard talked about the Iceland experience as (correct me if I’m wrong) the closest thing to anarchy ever recorded, I really don’t think he thought of it as utopian in either sense of the word.

    I will again resubmit the idea that the state, in trying to “right” the “wrongs” in society is more unachievable than the idea of an society based upon eschewing aggression. Plus, the “stated” goals of the state to fix the unregulated society smacks of trying to achieve a “perfect society” through coercion. Absolutely a contradiction in my view.

  49. George Donnelly Says:

    For a second there I thought he said

    Let Freedom Growl

    LOL

  50. Susan Hogarth Says:

    So although Rothbard talked about the Iceland experience as (correct me if I’m wrong) the closest thing to anarchy ever recorded, I really don’t think he thought of it as utopian in either sense of the word.

    My memory of Rothbard’s writing is that he describes the day.to.day relations of individuals as the clearest demonstration of how anarchy can work. It is based on trust, reputation, social custom and mores, etc. But I may have Rothbard mashed up with Hoppe and others as well. It’s been a while since I’ve had the luxury of time for necessary background reading :-/

  51. darolew Says:

    The arguments on Third Party Watch show exactly why the cease-fire was called in 1974. (Generally) Libertarians are a smart, highly-opinionated and fiercely critical bunch—those who get along on 90% of the issues can and will tear each other apart on the other 10%. That’s why it was decided to focus on the mutual agreement, not the (relatively!) minor disagreements. The LP Presidential Candidate is supposed to serve as a general spokesman for liberty, focusing on issues which liberty-loving folk can rally around. Frankly, Ruwart could do that just fine, and if Bob Barr clarified some of his views, even he could serve that role. The LP “Radicals” shouldn’t get upset over nominating a non-”radical”, nor should the non-”radicals” be upset over the nomination of a “radical”.

    Until the government is dramatically smaller—or in the chance that Konkin’s agorism starts to plays out (not too likely in the near future, IMO)—the whole issue is pretty irrelevant.

  52. Anal Libertarian Says:

    Finger deep within me, Rep. Bob Barr.
    Show me that you love me and that we belong together.
    Relax, turn around and take my hand

  53. Steve LaBianca Says:

    darolew Says:
    May 11th, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    The LP Presidential Candidate is supposed to serve as a general spokesman for liberty, focusing on issues which liberty-loving folk can rally around. Frankly, Ruwart could do that just fine, and if Bob Barr clarified some of his views, even he could serve that role.

    Barr really ought to clarify his views . . . that is if such clarification bolsters his Libertarian credentials. If his clarification IS NOT in concert with Libertarian views, he could not “serve that role”.

  54. A Says:

    Dondero wants massive amounts of war.

    Dondero wants the U.S. to nuke the Middle East, because he wants the Middle East to retaliate and nuke the U.S.

    Dondero wants every country nuked.

    Dondero wants to see every human die.

    Without living humans, there can be no government.

    Therefore, Eric Dondero is an ANARCHIST.

    More accurately, Eric Dondero is a utopian who believes that criminals should be able to commit their murderous crimes if they simply refer to themselves as “governments.” He believes it’s okay to have lawlessness. He does not believe that all entities, including governments, must abide by the law. And then he calls someone who. And then he has the balls to call someone an anarchist because that person doesn’t want to see any organisation ever cause the death any innocent person, because that person believes that any entity that causes an innocent person to die is liable for his/her/its actions.

  55. Alex Peak Says:

    Mr. Murphy writes, “Anarchy is utopian.”

    I must disagree. No utopia can ever be achieved; hence by utopias are utopian. Anarchism can be achieved, and thus by definition is not utopian.

    The confusion lies, I believe, in the implication of utopia. Utopias imply perfection. But, perfection is impossible. No matter what system of government we have, from fascism to anarchism, there will still exist crime. There will still exist poverty, and disease, and aggression. The only relevant question is: Which system of government is best suited to handle these ills?

    Anarchists and minarchists disagree on one or more of the following fundamental point: courts and police.

    The minarchist believes that we need a minimal government so as to ensure that there is an arbitor of last resort, or to make sure that we don’t have competing police agencies that begin to war with one another.

    The anarchist believes that these functions work best when we have competing firms handling them, rather than government-instituted monopolies, which tend to become bureaucratic and inefficient, or simply destructive of one’s Liberty. The anarchist argues that these competing firms will not war with one another because it would be in their economic interest to maintain the peace and to serve their customers by protecting them from invasions.

    The minarchists don’t buy that, and maintain that some limited government is required as a safety net.

    The anarchists fear that having any centralised authority is a liability, since centralised authority can easily be seized by tyrants.

    Either way, both sides present rational arguments, and neither side is inherently utopian. Anyone who, on either side, claims that, once minarchy/anarchy is achieved life will become easy as cake and everyone will be happy, is a utopian. And any minarchist who makes the additional claim that maintaining a limited government in its limited capacity forever is possible is also utopian.

    Respectfully,
    Alex Peak

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